Last week I posted a short blog about Bay View attorney Jan Pierce challenging Alderman Tony Zielinski for the seat. Little did I know that this little blog which I expected only a handful of people to care about would garner the most interest and attention of anything I’ve posted. Yes it doesn’t look that impressive on BB, but both campaigns have reached out to me and a number of others have posted on Facebook. So now I have decided to follow up with three related posts. This first one in the series will briefly outline just a few of the issues that I would expect to be discussed during the campaign. I hope to follow with an article about each candidate after I’ve had the opportunity to talk with each of them. The following discussion is not a criticism of any current or future candidate…but just what I think needs to be addressed for the city and district to succeed.
Over the past 5 months a tidal wave of legislation has either been passed in Madison or approved in committee for inclusion in Gov. Walker’s first budget that will have tremendously negative impacts on Milwaukee. The most obvious is the one that has caused the most uproar in the Capitol and that is the nullification of collective bargaining for public employees. And then the cuts to state revenue sharing with the cities, the artificial limits on taxing authorities to levy property taxes to cover the shortfalls, the reassignment of shared funds for local street/road repairs, the abolition of residency requirements for Milwaukee police and fire fighters (there are 122 municipalities in WI with similar laws, why only Milwaukee?). the unfunded mandate of voter ID that will require additional poll workers and the maintenance of poll logs for voters to sign, the $100,000 limit on local governments for local road repair at which point they must bid out the work to private contractors, etc. And although not directly applicable to city government, cuts to MPS which will make it harder to educate our youth and limit our ability to maintain a skilled workforce, cuts to public transportation which will decrease many of our citizens mobility and increase demands for other infrastructure items like roads and parking.
The next alderman needs to be actively concerned about these issues…able to work with citizens to determine immediate needs…able to work with other local officials including county and neighboring municipalities and willing and able to lobby our representatives in Madison to make sure that Wisconsin stops handicapping Milwaukee directly by its actions.
Speaking of infrastructure, the City of Milwaukee has continued effective and efficient city service such as trash/recycling pickup and snow removal. But have you paid any attention to the local streets? Portions of major throughfares including Oklahoma and Kinnickinnic Avenues are pockmarked and deteriorating at incredible rates and the secondary and residential streets are well past their useful life spans. The next alderman will need to address those basic issues.
Development of the district will be critical. The 14th has seen some significant growth over the past 8 to 10 years and we have a great entertainment district now. But we need more businesses that can pay better than waitstaff wages or retail wages. Jobs that provide livable wages and benefits.
Improvements in public transportation are key to the areas growth. The major bus routes running into and through the area have been reduced or eliminated by the last county executive and need to be restored and/or improved. And can we develop a new plan to develop a parking ramp on the city lot on E. Lincoln just east of KK so we can improve parking and traffic flow in the area?
Along with our entertainment district we’ve seen new events and revitalized events throughout the area, including the South Shore Frolics, South Shore Farmers Market, Chill on the Hill, Bay View Gallery Night, Bay View Block Party and more. The alderman needs to be a cheerleader for these events and do what he can to keep them viable. And can we reduce the impact on immediate neighbors without impacting an event…like shuttles for the Frolics or Chill or 4th of July Fireworks along the Bay View lakefront or Humboldt Park.
We have a number of areas that need redevelopment…particularly the industrial area between Bay Street and the Kinnickinnic river…like the junk yard just north of KK and Bay and the old Louis Allis plant. There is also a swath of green space south of Bay Street that might be appropriate for housing that fits with the existing neighborhood (as opposed to the housing proposed several years ago that would have been non-conforming). And care should be taken in the development of new housing, particularly condos or apartments…that they be distinctive without being obtrusive. I’d hate to turn Bay View into the east side or the beer line.
The Sweetwater Organics expansion to the brown field that was the Army Reserve center just north of the Beulah Brinton center must be brought to fruition. Can we finally find someone with the wherewithal to restore the Avalon Theater building. Can we bring more professional offices and services to the area?
And speaking of Sweetwater (and the windmill and community gardens I didn’t speak of) can we continue searching out ‘green’ opportunities for the 14th District. Can we entice one or more of the water initiative companies to locate in the district.
Although Bay View was recently identified as the safest neighborhood in the city, we can’t be complacent. Is the recent reassignment of district stations responsible for covering portions of the district the most effective for the area. (this is an aside…I seldom see MPD in my area unless there is an issue…I see the SFPD far more often since I am about a block north of St Francis and they need to turn around). And with the large number of county parks in the district, can our next alderman work with the Sheriff’s Dept to insure safety for our friends and neighbors in our local parks?
And our alderman needs to be responsive to the constituents and businesses in the neighborhood and be visible in the district.
And although I realize the 14th District is more than Bay View, I see that I am Bay Viewcentric (although I was trying not to be)…so our next alderman has to make sure to represent the entire district.
This has been percolating in my brain since Saturday but I didn’t bother to write down any notes, so I am assuming I have forgotten something I wanted to include. When I recall whatever it is, I’ll add it below with a date stamp so that everyone knows it is new content.
6/9/2011 update: Here are a few other things that I forgot yesterday…development on KK has been the most visible growth in Bay View over the past few years…so now it’s time to fill in other former business streets in the area, Howell comes to mind for instance.
And with the merger of Fritsche Middle School into Bay View HS and the pending migrations of Dover Elementary and Tippecanoe School for the Arts and Humanities into the empty Fritsche building, we have the opportunity to reconfigure these properties.